Analyzing Meditation as a Relevant Tool for Addressing Stressors in Life
This article will explain why people use meditation and whether or not it is a useful tool. What is meditation? Meditation is a mind-body exercise that has been practiced for thousands of years. This practice is designed for calmness and physical relaxation to help “still” the mind and body. We’ll be looking at which meditation is good for anxiety, and if this mindful practice has the potential to stop or even prevent stressful situations such as anxiety attacks. There seems to be endless raving on the positive benefits of mediation, however this article will objectively explore the disadvantages of meditation.
What Does Meditation Aim to Achieve
Meditation aims to help the mind and body tap into the parasympathetic nervous system. This happens by “deactivating” the fight or flight response in the body, also known as the sympathetic nervous system. This essentially will leave someone feeling a more calm and more restful state.
There are several types of meditation. There is a method called Zen meditation which is an ancient Buddhist tradition that involves sitting upright and following breath, focusing on just “being”: the practice of thinking about not thinking. Then there is Chakra meditation, which is a way of aligning and balancing the seven energy centers in your body, called chakras, that affect your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Another form of meditation is body scan meditation, mindfulness practice that helps you tune in to your physical sensations and emotions. There are many various types of mediation, but all are designed to help achieve a more calm sensation of the body and mind and overall awareness of one's physical and mental being.
When people practice meditation they usually seek it out to achieve peace in their body and mind. Ideally this peace sensation is not being in a fight or flight response, the sympathetic nervous system. Implementing certain protocols in someone's life can help assist the body in not being in a catabolic state. These protocols include moving in relation to our biological blueprint, getting adequate sleep and a decent amount of sunlight, as well as sticking to an adaptive paleo diet. Implementing strategies with lifestyle choices will help the body become more resilient to stress in life, which will make achieving “peace” and “tranquility” a more straight forward pursuit instead of feeling the need to have a daily meditation practice.
Disadvantages to Meditation
The biggest disadvantage to meditation is that it can be ambiguous. There are so many different types of meditation, it can be confusing for someone to find the most optimal way of meditating. For example, some people use yoga as a form of meditation. The mental benefits of stilling and calming the mind do not outweigh the negative externalities of physical yoga practice. Meditation can be done in a variety of ways. One way to meditate is through myofascial release. This is a self message using a hard object like a lacrosse ball and laying on top of it. When someone does this practice they have to be aware of the tension in their body and how they are breathing. This could essentially be a form of meditation. Meditation focuses on body and mind awareness, unfortunately traditional meditation may not account enough for body awareness and the instability in the body and how that can affect anxiety and stress.
The Act of Doing Nothing
The world is filled with distractions, deadlines, stress, and constant motion. When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? People think in order to still their mind they need to meditate, this isn’t necessarily the case especially when you follow lifestyle protocols that will help the body tap into the parasympathetic nervous system. Training in a way that is orientated around our biological blueprint will inherently help the process of doing nothing. This is because there is more blood flow and less blockages in the body, which will help the body be more relaxed. An example of this is practicing doing literally nothing, or “tuning into the boring.” This can be as simple as sitting outside at a park and observing your surroundings. You have to learn to carve out time daily to find a place where you can do nothing. Doing nothing does not mean sitting on the couch and scrolling on your phone. The act of scrolling is still doing something, it is still stimulating to the brain and does not help the body tap into the parasympathetic nervous system.
It is important to practice doing nothing on a regular basis, the more it is practiced the more benefits that come with it, and easier it will be to do. If you are finding it hard to sit and do nothing, try going to a relaxing and calming place, whether that is inside or outside. Being out in nature can help, looking at a sunrise or sunset can be an example of doing nothing. It can also be beneficial to be inside in a calming environment doing and tuning into the boring. This can be as simple as watching a candle flame or sitting by a fireplace and watching the logs burn. There are many ways to do nothing, the most important aspect of doing nothing is being consistent with it and learning to be in a more calm state of being.
Meditation can be a beneficial way for people to calm their nervous system and get out of a fight or flight response. That being said it can be an ambiguous practice if not done with the intention of fixing a problem in the body. One avenue that does focus on fixing body awareness is the 10 week online course from Functional Patterns. This course goes over myofascial release and other forms of body awareness which will ultimately lead to mindfulness as well. The purpose of meditation is to reach a calm state of mental and physical being. In order to do that a person needs to find what dysfunctions in their body and their behavior that is causing that anxiety. Focusing on fixing biomechanics will help find that mind and body connection more than just simple breathing exercises.